|Mixed reaction to Neuheisel's return|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 15 November 2008 19:04|
``There he is! Neu-weasel!'' a 20-something man said as the first UCLA bus, the one carrying Rick Neuheisel, pulled up outside Husky Stadium on Saturday.
Just before kickoff of the otherwise ho-hum game between coach Neuheisel's Bruins (3-6) and his former, now flat-lining Washington Huskies (0-9), Neuheisel walked down a long, familiar tunnel from the locker rooms. As Neuheisel waited for his team to run onto the field, a grade-school boy in a purple Huskies jersey held a large sign at the railing above the tunnel. On one half was a picture of a weasel. The other had a photo of Neuheisel pointing confidently while he was the UW's coach earlier this decade.
In block letters below the pictures: ``Separated at birth.''
e first time since Washington fired him and then gave him a $4.5 million settlement to go away in 2003.
It was raining yet again in Seattle - with boos.
This was the first time Washington had faced a former coach since 1975 when Darrell Royal returned with Texas. But Royal didn't stir nearly the emotion Neuheisel has. After all, Royal spent just one season with the Huskies, going 5-5 in 1956.
Angry Washington fans blame Neuheisel for turning the Huskies into one of the nation's worst programs, the only winless major college team entering Saturday.
His tenure started out rosy. From 1999-2002, he befriended his players and brought his enthusiastic, always-sunny attitude to the program. Then he guided Washington to the 2001 Rose Bowl and finished the season ranked No. 3. He went 33-16, beat archrival Washington State each time and went to bowl games in all four of his seasons.
Huskies fans would take half that right now. Since his firing in 2003, Washington is 18-50. It hasn't had a winning season with coaches Keith Gilbertson and Tyrone Willingham since he left.